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Recovering Foote unsure if this will be last season

by Rick Sadowski
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- He's 39 years old and his 19th NHL season is winding down, but Colorado Avalanche captain Adam Foote hasn't yet decided whether he's about to close out what has been a remarkable career.

"No," he said Thursday. "I promised myself and my family that I wouldn't think about that or waste energy thinking about that until each season's over."

Foote did acknowledge he is in the twilight of a career that began in 1991-92 with the Quebec Nordiques.

"I've been down the stretch of my career the last three years," he said, laughing. "I've been on the back nine for a while. Of course I am, that's obvious. I said I wouldn't even think of things like (retirement) until the end of the season. I want to do my job and get back in the lineup and try to help this team go in the right direction and keep being professional and play hard."

Foote, who has won two Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal, has missed the past eight games with a torn quadriceps muscle he suffered in a Feb. 7 game against Phoenix. He took part Thursday in his first practice session with the team since getting hurt and left the ice after about 40 minutes.

Foote said he planned to accompany the Avalanche on a three-game road trip that begins Saturday in Los Angeles but doesn't know when he'll be able to play.

"It was a good day today, a good test," said Foote, who has 8 assists, 31 penalty minutes and a minus-8 plus/minus rating in 41 games this season. "It's still lingering a bit, but at least I can do some conditioning, go on this trip and get in shape and see where I'm at. I'd like to play. I'd like to try, but I have to make sure this is over. It's one of those things, a tear, and you don't want to reopen it.

"I felt it for two games. It was lingering. The puck hit the boards and it bounced one way it usually wouldn't, so I adjusted real quick and popped it and finished the tear. It was probably just a little micro tear (before) in the quad muscle, just a bad spot. You have to let those heal; it's a muscle that you use a lot."

The Avalanche have lost 11 of their past 12 games, and Foote was asked if he felt like he is captain of a sinking ship.

"I don't know, it's a tough time," he said. "You just have to deal with it, move on and stay positive and keep fighting. That's what we're going to keep doing."

Forced to sit and watch the Avalanche struggle as his leg heals has left Foote with a helpless feeling.

"It always is when you're injured and on the shelf," he said. "When you're winning, it's a lot easier, that's for sure. There are times when you push to get back too early and you're back on the shelf. With a tear, these are the types of injuries where you'll go way back if you don't take care of it the right way, so I'm trying to do the right things."

O'Byrne recovering: Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne is expected to miss between seven and 10 days because of the severe facial lacerations he sustained when he was cut with a skate blade early in the first period of Wednesday's 5-1 loss to Edmonton.

O'Byrne was hospitalized and needed about 100 stitches to close the wounds. He will have to wear a full face shield or cage when he is permitted to play.
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